Archive for September 2018

Deadly duel: it may be small but the redback spider conquers the dugite. Photo: Chris O’Keefe
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Deadly duel: it may be small but the redback spider conquers the dugite. Photo: Chris O’Keefe

Deadly duel: it may be small but the redback spider conquers the dugite. Photo: Chris O’Keefe

Deadly duel: it may be small but the redback spider conquers the dugite. Photo: Chris O’Keefe

Who’d have thought: it seems redback spiders taking down snakes is a thing.

Images of a redback spider stalking, striking and snaring a snake at a Gooroc farm shed in regional Victoria have created a stir but it seems the spider versus the snake is old news at one Casuarina workshop.

WAtoday南京夜网.au reader Chris O’Keefe took photographs of the deadly duo after finding a redback spider had spun a dugite into its web in the corner of his electrical workshop on Friday.

“It was huge,” Mr O’Keefe said of the redback.

“When I first saw it I thought it was some cable stuck in a web but when I saw the spider furiously running up and down it I had a closer look and discovered it was a dugite,” Mr O’Keefe said.

He said he was surprised to see photographs of a similar fight to the death scenario were taken only days apart but on the other side of the country.

“We thought maybe it was that time of the year for this type of thing,” he said.

Mr O’Keefe said he and his workmates were relieved they discovered the spider and its booty on the handle of the workshop fire extinguisher before any fire broke out.

“I think everyone deep down has a fear of spiders,” he said.

“I guess now we will have a greater fear of walking through a battle royale between two of Australia’s deadliest creatures. I will definitely keep an eye open at work from now on.” Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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European wasps can be deadly and thrive in the WA climateEuropean wasps continue to spread across Perth with the insects now covering an area that occupies most of the city’s metropolitan area.
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Marc Widmer, senior technical officer with the Department of Agriculture and Food, said the wasps have gained a strong hold on the city, from Joondalup to Bedfordale, from Fremantle to Midland.

He was in Banjup on Tuesday to remove another nest.

“It seems to be really widespread this year,” Mr Widmer said.

“Two years ago we found our first nest in Banjup, now we’ve found 12 in the last two months.”

Mr Widmer said 43 nests have been removed from Perth so far this year.

“And there’s still plenty of activity,” he said.

Mr Widmer said the reasons as to why so many wasps are appearing in Perth remain a mystery.

“We don’t know why: is it because a nest was missed and they matured and released queens,” he said.

“Or is there an industry nearby that’s bringing in heavily infested produce?”

The European wasp, or Vespula germanica, is considered the world’s worst social wasp and has the potential to become a greater pest in WA than anywhere in the world, according to the Department of Agriculture and Food.

It appears the wasp problem in WA may be the result of authorities in the eastern states letting their wasp populations get out of hand.

“As they’ve been left uncontrolled in the eastern states, they’re spreading,” Mr Widmer said.

“A larger area is now infested.”

Self proclaimed “wasp whisperer” Shannon Cash believes the wasp problem may be worse than many think.

He said he recently travelled to Quinninup, about 300 kms south of Perth, and while he was having a beer with mates at a local hotel, he noticed some wasps buzzing around that he thought were of the European strain.

When asked if he was sure if they were European wasps, Mr Cash replied: “Mate, I’m 100 per cent sure.”

Wasp whisperer Cash does have an eye for spotting the insects.

He managed to detect some wasps in Fremantle before their nest was removed in January, as revealed by Fairfax Media, and has since studied the insects after being provided with a wasp detection kit by Mr Widmer.

“I was alarmed when I saw them buzzing around a fence in Quindanning especially after our close encounter in Fremantle,” Mr Cash said.

“Clearly, the wasp problem is getting worse.”

Mr Widmer said he will investigate.

Anyone interested in helping to stop the wasps can contact the Pest and Diseases Information Service on 1800 084 881. Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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Andrew Chan, one of the Bali Nine duo at Kerobokan Prison on what his last day in Kerobokan Prison before he is transfered to Nusakambangan prison island. Photo: Kate Geraghty Myuran Sukumaran one of the Bali Nine duo (left) with Barrister Julian McMahon (right) at Kerobokan Prison on what is the last visit before he is transfered to Nusakambangan prison island for upcoming execution. Photo: Kate Geraghty
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Bali nine executions: spiritual advisers ready for final hoursLegal appeals irrelevant, say Indonesian officialsRobb shelves trade delegation to Indonesia

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will be transferred to the execution island of Nusakambanganon on Wednesday, it has been announced.

Momock Bambang Samiarso, Bali’s chief prosecutor and the man in charge of the transfer, made the announcement after meeting with police, military and other officials.

The two Australians, reformed drug smugglers, are aware they will be moved, said Kerobokan prison governor Sudjonggo. He said the duo had given some of their belongings to other members of the Bali nine syndicate and Sukumaran had told them to “be careful”, or behave well, after he left.

The duo will be allowed to bring personal belongings with them, but their families will not be able to visit them on Wednesday, as preparations for the move will restrict access, Sudjonggo told Fairfax Media earlier.

A dismayed Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said it was callous for the executions to proceed given the men’s rehabilitation.

“I will continue to contact counterpart ministers to press for a stay of execution,” she said.

Chan’s brother Michael and Sukumaran’s mother Raji visited the pair on Tuesday but left the penitentiary before news emerged of the timing of their transfer. Other family members are expected to come over from Australia soon. Families will be able to visit the two men on Nusakambangan.

As Sudjonggo spoke, they were being comforted by their lawyer, Julian McMahon.

The transfer will use two military transport planes, Mr Momock said. One will contain the Australians and their guards. The other will contain another contingent of security personnel.

He said the transfer would occur on Wednesday “siang”, or day. The phrase usually denotes a time between 10am and 3pm.

Speaking later, Mr Mocock told reporters to “standby from the morning”, meaning the transfer could happen even earlier.

The men are expected to be transported to Denpasar airport from the prison in armoured personnel vans, most likely the police’s Barracuda vehicles.

Chan and Sukumaran can expect to be executed soon after the transfer, with Indonesia’s attorney-general saying that the execution by firing squad of the two men and eight other drug felons will happen “ASAP”.

The men will be given 72 hours notice before they are killed. As well as their families, lawyers and a religious counsellor will be able to see them while on Nusakambangan, an island with a prison complex in Central Java.

Indonesian lawyers for Chan and Sukumaran have released a statement calling on the Attorney-General to refrain from executing the Australians or transferring them from Bali’s Kerobokan jail while legal action is underway.

The statement said the men had challenged the dismissal to their appeal in the Jakarta State Administrative Court on Monday.

Secondly, they had submitted a report to the Judicial Commission on February 13 alleging violations of judicial conduct and ethics.

This was based on information obtained by the men’s former lawyer, Muhammad Rifan, who alleged the judges who sentenced Chan and Sukumaran to death offered a lighter sentence in exchange for money.

“Indonesian criminal law basically guarantees the rights of convicts to defend their legal rights,” the statement said.

“Due to the ongoing legal recourse by Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan it would therefore be appropriate if the Attorney-General’s office respects such legal recourse by refraining from carrying out the execution of sentence against Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, including transferring them from Kerobokan prison to the prison at Nusakambangan.”

Indonesia’s attorney general Prasetyo said on Monday that legal appeals pending for Chan and Sukumaran would not have any impact on the executions. Because the drug smuggling duo had their clemency appeals rejected by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, he said, these later appeals were irrelevant.

Lawyers for Chan and Sukumaran reacted angrily to the remarks, saying Mr Prasetyo was not respecting the rule of law in the country and would bring international condemnation upon Indonesia by rushing through the executions.

Mr Prasetyo revealed on Tuesday that prisons on Nusakambangan have requested that the Bali nine duo not spend too much time in isolation on the island.

Stating – as he did on Monday – that preparations were 95 per cent complete for the execution of 10 drug felons, Mr Prasetyo said an evaluation of the first batch of executions this year had shown there were things that needed to be improved.

The execution of six drug felons on January 18 was hampered by weather problems, journalists masquerading as fishermen to try and access the island and confusion over the religion of those condemned.

“We will immediately carry out the executions when the preparation is completed,”  Mr Prasetyo said on Tuesday. “The principle is that once they are there they should not wait too long in their cell.”

There were also still prisoners who needed to be transported from Madiun and Yogyakarta. “After the evacuation we will determine the time of the execution,” Mr Prasetyo said.

Meanwhile, fellow prisoner on death row, Filipino Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso had her request for a judicial review into her case adjourned until Wednesday.

The migrant worker was sentenced to death for smuggling 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia from Malaysia in 2010.

Indonesia plans to kill 10 drug felons in a mass execution that will require 120 members of a combined firing squad, 12 for each victim.

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The Abbott government has failed to pass a controversial budget proposal to reduce research and development tax breaks for all companies by 1.5 per cent.
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The reduction in the rate was budgeted to provide a $620 million saving over four years but was voted down by Labor and the Greens on Monday night.

Opposition innovation spokesman Kim Carr said it was a “harsh, unfair and job-destroying measure [that] was based on a lie, and the Senate has rejected it accordingly”.

He said some of Australia’s biggest R&D investors – including companies such as Cochlear, CSL, Telstra and Caltex – had made it clear that constant tinkering with the tax break on R&D investment would cost jobs.

Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt said the Senate’s rejection of the $620 million in cuts was a “big win for science and research and a big win for business”.

“The Parliament’s rejection of these cuts is a step towards stemming the bleeding [to innovation],” he said.

Tax experts have welcomed the move to ditch the 1.5 per cent reduction in the tax offset but slammed the decision to limit tax breaks for companies spending over $100 million on R&D, and back date the change to July 1 last year.

As Fairfax Media reported, thanks to a deal with the Palmer United Party (PUP) last month, up to 25 Australian companies including Telstra, BHP and Rio Tinto will only be able to claim tax breaks for R&D spending up to $100 million.

Anything above that amount will no longer be eligible. The cap will apply retrospectively.

PwC tax partner Sandra Boswell said it could result in high-tech investment shifting offshore.

“It could mean that projects could move to more favourable regimes in the region, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia,” she said. “They all have R&D incentive programs and they are increasing them, not putting caps on it.”

She said she hoped the upcoming tax white paper would consider new incentives encouraging companies to innovate.

KPMG head of R&D incentives David Gelb said any proposal to reduce the R&D rate again needed to be coupled with a reduction in the corporate tax rate.

He said the affect of the cap would mean that companies which have this level of R&D spending and engage with smaller companies, universities and research bodies to undertake work for them would no longer be able to do so.

“This engagement with the broader community will be significantly impaired,” he said.

MPR Group partner Brendan Brown said despite the cap, he was pleased that small to medium businesses would continue to get existing tax breaks on R&D spending.

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